Today was my second day in Port-au-Prince, and already it has been quite a culture shock. The city itself is very busy (not to mention scorching hot) and people and cars travel every which way as soon as the sun rises. I’ve noticed that the vast majority of Haitians work informal jobs in the streets selling food, products, art, or services. The media researcher in me wonders if and how this economic setup would change if there was more access to digital technologies here.
After settling in yesterday, I went about scheduling my interviews and meetings for this week. Within the next few days I will be speaking with people from Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to bringing technology to developing countries; Digicel, Haiti’s number one cell phone company; and Artists for Peace and Justice, an NGO which has built the only free high school for the city’s poor.
Today I actually visited this school on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, called the Academy for Peace and Justice. They have just built a brand new computer lab! I found it interesting that teachers and students alike both have to learn how to use the devices and the Internet itself. Many of them have never touched a mouse or keyboard before. During computer classes, they will use the Microsoft eLearning software which teaches them computer basics, programs and security and also educates them on potential uses and careers associated with the technology.
Educating Haiti’s next generation of working adults in these areas is a huge step towards closing the country’s digital gap. That said, I still have a lot to learn about the nation’s developing media industry. Looking forward to sharing my findings with you all!